Back to School | Every Kid Needs This

Going back to school is a bigger adjustment than a lot of us might remember. Kids change so much over the summer months, and sometimes drastically! Each of them has a unique story when they return. “Write about something fun you did over the break.” (I can’t help but wonder what mine will say. What will yours? — What are their first thoughts!?)

I want to build sarcasm here, unveil stories of mayhem in my home, a wild blend of chaos and comedy. It doesn’t take long to come up with a response about something fun we did. (I have three boys, so imagine if you will, — or maybe you’re in the same boat. There’s been a lot going on here:)

But what I’m about to share doesn’t follow that lead. I’m writing with a much heavier heart.

You guys, summer isn’t fun for everyone. Regardless of rough patches, you and I might have had a good laugh with our kids, experienced some sort of adventure, or even a sentimental outing — but we know every home is different. Ignorance isn’t bliss, of course, and we need to see beyond our circle.

It’s safe to say, most kids used technology these past several weeks. Their whereabouts, varied and broad. Our kids are soon to be sitting in a classroom full of diverse and knowledgeable little people!

While opportunity grows, it’s a scary realization. Some of our kids’ classmates have crossed dangerous bounds over the summer break. And maybe their parents have no idea about it. Internet freedom opens doors with little trace, but often leaves internal pain and unresolved emotion. Having seen things that they never should, and done things they regret, many kids return from break with heartache and fear.

And they walk into class, now dressed for success, but taking steps with weighted feet. Unnoticeably, these kids have been transformed within. Regret, shame, and fear are the forefront of their path each day. And for some, this has been happening under the roof of a caring home.

Ugh, well that’s heavy.

I know.

I do know.

It’s heavy for our tender hearts, but imagine how much heavier it is for them. — To feel buried beneath the rubble, to feel isolated and alone, to live fearfully, in repercussion. Don’t turn your ear from these things, just because they make you sad. If you feel for the situation, stand up on their behalf!

Technology isn’t the derivative for every situation, but these ideas remind us that some kids will return with hard to handle behaviors, often as a reflection of pain. Classrooms are a melting pot of intricate people, and conflict is only natural.

Support for relationships and peer engagement is a year-round need, but it’s especially crucial after breaks like these. It seems that greatest school supply is a soft heart, empathy.

These are some things I’m aiming to remind my kids about. What would you add?

A Soft Heart | Back to School

  • Everyone is created with purpose and value, and you should honor that. You should never look down on anyone else, and you should respect other people’s differences. How can you respond to others with care, even when they are not kind or easy to understand? How can you communicate with them respectfully?

  • Boundaries are healthy, but they need to be communicated kindly. Learn to work together, yes even with difficult people. You will not get along with every person, everywhere. And that is ok! This will be true for your entire life. Respect is not the same as trust, emotional connection, or vulnerability. Respect is kind, assertive, and thoughtful. You can respect people, without having a friendship.

  • Be a good friend, and find people who reciprocate. Especially at school, friendship becomes confusing. Kids see the same group every day, and it’s hard to discern expectations for relationship. This is how you know and become a true friend: Friends actively seek the best for each other. They use energy to build one another up, and they intentionally encourage the right path for one another. Not everyone at school will be your friend. Keep expectations realistic and meaningful with people around you. Be the kind of friend you want others to be for you.

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember that everyone is experiencing trials, and no one is perfect. When you feel challenged to be kind, ask yourself this question. ‘How would you want to be spoken to, or responded to, if the tables were turned?’

  • Ask for help if you need it. This seems really self-explanatory, but it’s not always a first response, especially as kids get older. They don’t want to tattle, or they feel weak if they can’t handle a situation themselves. But sometimes we need help, and there is nothing bad about that. — Even us adults need to remember, it is more than ok to ask for help!

As we set off toward this new school year, I hope it is a beautiful beginning for you and your family!

As always, thank you for joining here! Together we Thrive ~


Social Media | For Parents

What if you had opportunity to re-do something from the past, change or improve one moment in time? What would it be? We all have something. I can instantly name more than a handful. How about you?

Try to think of one in particular, — maybe an embarrassing event, or a phase you went through…or just a dumb choice that led to a heap more. How old were you when it happened? My guess is you were in your late teens or early 20’s.

Now imagine if it had been documented, – photos, video, and all. Imagine if your most regretful act was now available for replay, indefinitely. — I’d rather not. But maybe yours was.

Today, moments in time are captured without hesitation, and instantly made permanent. It’s scary, for all of us, and especially when it comes to kids and teenagers. Science tells us that their brains are still developing the ability to measure consequences. Yet, they are sharing photos and words, often in moments of impulse, in forms that remain accessible long-term. What will they think in 10 years, if these things reappear?

Modern pre-teens and young adults are naturally as immature and prone to poor judgement as we were. It’s why age is the determination for freedoms within our society. Psychological and emotional readiness take time, and rushing the process can lead to permanent damage, both emotionally and physically.

Exposure to mature and complicated media is not something to take lightly.

Suppose your 13-year-old daughter comes to you and says, “I’ve got this. I’ve been watching you drive for years.” Do you hand her the keys? What if your 15-year-old says he’s going with some friends to the drive-in, one next to a strip club, …do you let him go along? You guys, when we leave our kids on their own with internet freedom, the door is open to situations like these.

It’s tricky online because boundaries aren’t always enforced, followed, or even determined. When it comes to social media, we share a platform where every user follows different rules, or none at all.And as parents, we can’t pretend to know about everything out there.

Accessibility is constantly changing. From private messages to texting, Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Minecraft, etc. we have to be on guard. The conversation requires heart-centered, truthful conversation, a will for strong character.

Here are some thoughts, as we consider the impact and depth of media freedom for our kids.

Boundaries / Expectations with Connection

  • What kind of purpose does your son/daughter have with the media they choose, and what are the exact boundaries to keep this focus? Do you agree with their thoughts?

  • If this is how they are connecting with friends, how will they respond to invitation from acquaintances or people they don’t know?

  • Is social media taking priority over in-person connection? How are you helping managing the time and establish limits?

  • What kind of acceptance are they expecting with social media?

  • Is your son/daughter relying on the approval of others for self-worth? Is a calculation of likes, comments, and followers a predominant concern for them?

  • Do you want your child to connect with others using social media?


  • Does your son/daughter understand what is acceptable behavior? — Can they recognize when something is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical?

  • Would your son/daughter have the wits not to post or respond to something that is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical? How would they respond when friends do?

  • Is your son/daughter hanging around people who would post inappropriately?

  • Do your son/daughter’s friends understand what is acceptable behavior? Would they try to post anything to embarrass or hurt your child? (When our kids spend time with other kids who have social media, their actions are most likely documented.)

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s behavior with social media?

Images / Permanence

  • Social media opens the door for your child to view pornography, violence, and other graphic images. How can they avoid this? Do the apps and websites they use have filtering? — Does it work?

  • Would your son/daughter search for pornography, violence, and other graphic images if they could?

  • What kinds of photos and videos is your son/daughter posting? Do they understand the permanence with it?

  • Would your son/daughter be ok if you saw every thing they were posting?

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s judgement with posting?


  • Does your son/daughter know what cyberbullying is?

  • Has your son/daughter ever experienced this? — Are you sure?

  • Would your son/daughter bully someone online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied them online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied someone else online?

  • Do you feel comfortable with how your child would respond to cyberbullying?

Feelings / Self-Esteem / Self-Actualization

  • Does your son/daughter have a healthy self-image? Do you talk with them about it?

  • Does your son/daughter have other kind of engagement with people aside from social media?

  • Is your son/daughter feeling pressured to use social media because it is popular, or do they really enjoy it?

  • Do you feel that social media is a resource that builds your child up? Is it supporting their fullest potential?

Here are some extra links that I found helpful for all of this.

Together We Thrive!

~ Ayme